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West Goshen tightens zoning laws for pipeline projects

West Goshen resident Azim Siddiqui speaks at a forum about a proposed pump station for Sunoco Logistics' Mariner East pipeline in this April file photo.

Katie Colaneri/StateImpact Pennsylvania

West Goshen resident Azim Siddiqui speaks at a forum about a proposed pump station for Sunoco Logistics' Mariner East pipeline in this April 2014 file photo.

A Chester County town passed a series of amendments to its zoning law Tuesday night – the latest defensive move in West Goshen’s fight to prevent Sunoco Logistics from building a pump station for its Mariner East pipeline in a residential neighborhood.

More from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Under the amendments West Goshen Township supervisors approved at a special public hearing, the township will restrict pipeline companies to industrial areas, require them to prove their projects are necessary as public utilities, and force them to meet a series of requirements regarding safety and emergency planning.

However, the amendments are essentially legally “meaningless” if the state grants applicants exemptions from local zoning laws, as Sunoco Pipeline is seeking to do, township solicitor Kristin Camp told the roughly 70 residents at the hearing.

“There’s nothing our local zoning ordinance can do to trump state statutes,” Camp said.

Sunoco Logistics wants to build 31 pump and valve stations to keep natural gas liquids flowing along the pipeline’s 300-mile route from western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook. The company has applied to the state’s Public Utility Commission for permission to exempt the project from local zoning, arguing the pipeline is a public utility service.

Last month, a pair of administrative law judges for the PUC dismissed that claim and recommended the five-member commission deny Sunoco’s application.

The Inquirer reports the amendments passed Tuesday night could help West Goshen appeal if the PUC grants the company’s request for exemption.

It is not clear when the commission will take up the issue.

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